Respect Graces the Living, Lamentation Graces the Dead
This book presents a comprehensive ethnographic study of the singing of koshok (funeral lamentations) among elderly Kyrgyz women. Koshok is one of the oldest and most enduring genres of Kyrgyz oral poetry. The book includes koshok texts recorded by the author in different regions of Kyrgyzstan in 2003, 2011 and 2013, categorised according to theme and topic. It also includes descriptions of the author’s research methodology and a rare glimpse into the experiences of recording this sensitive ritual.
The author’s discussions of koshok includes excerpts from dozens of interviews with Kyrgyz women who share their own views on and experiences of singing koshok, including concerns over the waning significance of the ritual in modern Kyrgyz society. An accompanying DVD contains over 30 audio examples of koshoks sung by professional lamenters, as well as video footage of Kyrgyz rituals and customs during memorial feasts offered to the deceased. Drawing on the author’s original photographs and audio-video materials, the book aims to attract a wide range of readers, including scholars, students, those interested in Kyrgyz culture, and the principal tradition bearers of koshok singing, Kyrgyz women and aqyns (oral poets).